The following is information on the Elephant Orphan named: DABASSA  (foster now)

Name Gender Date Born Location Found Age on Arrival Comments Reason for being Orphaned
 DABASSA  Male  Thursday, May 14, 2009 Galana Ranch  About 20 months old  Found with wild bulls near the Galana Ranch HQ  Poaching 

Latest Updates on DABASSA:

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Most Recent Keeper's Diary Entry: (view all the latest entries for DABASSA)

8/13/2018 - Another day began with the orphan elephants happily downing their morning milk bottle before settling for their supplement feeding. Some of the orphans engaged in play fights while others were busy soil bathing on the red earth piles in the stockade compound.

The orphans browsed in single file towards the northern side of the stockade, with Layoni and Dabassa, who had been absent for more than a month, turning up to join the stockade dependent orphans at 11am. The two boys went straight to Lasayen to greet him but caught him unaware and he went running off screaming loudly. Mbegu came in to defend Lasayen, getting between him and the two older boys, ready to fight them if need be. Kenia’s group quickly communicated to Mbegu in rumbled tones that the two boys were graduate orphans and were no threat to them at all. The situation soon calmed down and the two older boys enjoyed a wonderful browsing session with the junior orphan elephants before moving towards the water pipe line area.

The Two Latest Photos of DABASSA: (view gallery of pictures for DABASSA)

 The orphans giving affection to the new arrival Dabassa getting comfort from the other orphans
The orphans giving affection to the new arrival
photo taken on 8/17/2011
Dabassa getting comfort from the other orphans
photo taken on 8/16/2011


On the 8th of August the Galana Ranch staff first noticed a young elephant calf amongst a herd of adult bulls, and as this is not normal they decided to monitor the calf closely over the coming days. On the 12th of August the calf was sighted again by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Field Operations Officer and pilot, Richard Moller, while on an Aerial Patrol. By this stage the calf had lost considerable condition and it was clear that without his mother he would die, because as a milk dependent calf he would not survive on his own in a wild situation, particularly as Galana Ranch right now is parched dry. Richard reported his sighting to the KWS authorities and our Voi elephant Keepers who arrived on the scene around 3:30pm. The calf is estimated to be approximately 20 months old.

The Voi Keepers did not waste any time, but the rescue was challenging because of the presence of his 4 big bull elephant guardians, and being late in the day they were mindful that it would take time too for the rescue plane to arrive from Nairobi, and all this needed to be acheived before sunset. The bulls were protective of him, so the rescue team had to be careful and very strategic in planning their capture. While they used the vehicle to sheild them they were able to captured the baby, who surprisingly did not put up too much of a fight, clearly weakened by days without milk.

Back in Nairobi the Keepers involved in the rescue were ready to go soon after the call came in at 4.00pm and were airborne shortly afterwards, arriving at Galana Ranch's airstrip about 1 hour 30 minutes later.

The orphan before going on the plane  The Keepers & Community members lift the heavy calf out the vehicle and into the rescue plane

Lifting the orphan into the plane  Lifting the orphan into the rescue plane

The orphan is loaded in the rescue plane  Preparing the orphan for the flight

The calf was safely loaded onto the plane with the cooperation of many Ranch hands and arrived back in Nairobi well after dark, around 7pm.

The plane prepares to leave  Many community members come to see the orphan

The men involved in the rescue

We called him Dabassa, after the famous Dabassa herd of old that were resident in that region during the 70's and early 80's. Once untied and safely in the taming stockade he seemed to gather renewed strength and proceeded to give the Keepers a serious run around.

Dabassa getting used to the Keepers  Dabassa

So much so that getting a milk bottle down him proved impossible, so he only took water throughout the night. The next day however, although he remained agressive, he soon learnt about the milk and from that moment onwards could not seem to get enough of it. Of course, like so many before him, he was riddled in parasites, so after a couple of days in the stockade we dewormed him and everyday throughout the day he was exposed to the nursery elephants and this coupled with Mishak's calming ways he began to settle. Mutura has been particularly enamoured with Dabassa, and showered him with warmth and affection which have instilled in him a real sense of belonging.

Mutara welcoming the new arrival  Mutara with the new arrival at 6am

It will not be too long before Dabassa will have the opportunity of returning to Tsavo as being as old as he is he will head down to Ithumba in the not too distant future to join the other older keeper dependent elephant orphans there, and be exposed once again to big wild bulls who we are sure will always hold a very special place in his heart, for the protection he received from the Galana bulls most surely saved him from falling prey to Tsavo's lions.

The orphans giving affection to the new arrival  Dabassa getting comfort from the other orphans

Mutara comforting the newcomer  Meeting the orphans



Please see the resources above for more information on DABASSA

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